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JMIR Ment Health. 2018 Jul 3;5(3):e10517. doi: 10.2196/10517.

A New Online Mental Health Training Program for Workplace Managers: Pre-Post Pilot Study Assessing Feasibility, Usability, and Possible Effectiveness.

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School of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Randwick, Australia.
School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.
Centre for Population Health Research, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.
Black Dog Institute, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
School of Electrical and Information Engineering, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
Department of Mental Health and Suicide, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway.
Department of Community Medicine,, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway.
Centre for Work and Mental Health, Nordland Hospital Trust, Bodø, Norway.
Centre for Research and Education in Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.
Brain and Mind Centre and Central Clinical School, School of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.



Mental health has become the leading cause of sickness absence in high-income countries. Managers can play an important role in establishing mentally healthy workplaces and coordinating their organization's response to a mentally ill worker.


This pilot study aims to evaluate the feasibility, usability, and likely effectiveness of a newly developed online training program for managers called HeadCoach. HeadCoach aims to build managers' confidence in supporting the mental health needs of staff and promote managerial behavior most likely to result in a more mentally healthy workplace.


In total, 66 managers from two organizations were invited to participate in this pre-post pilot study of HeadCoach, which was made available to managers to complete at their own pace over a 4-week period. Data were collected at baseline and post intervention via an online research platform. The difference in mean scores for each outcome between these two time points was calculated using paired samples t tests.


Of all the invited managers, 59.1% (39/66) participated in the trial, with complete pre-post data available for 56.4% (22/39) of the participants. The majority of respondents reported positive engagement with the program. During the study period, managers' knowledge regarding their role in managing mental health issues (P=.01) and their confidence in communicating with employees regarding mental illness (P<.001) significantly increased. In addition, a significant increase was observed from the baseline in managers' self-reported actions to use strategies to prevent and decrease stress among their team members (P=.02).


Although caution is needed due to the absence of a control group, preliminary results of this study suggest that HeadCoach could be a feasible, acceptable, and efficient method of training managers in best workplace practices to help support the mental health needs of their staff.


manager; supervisor training; workplace mental health; mental health education; online intervention; knowledge; attitudes; behaviour; eHealth

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